Monday, September 10, 2012


Teams search for Monarchs
Nine people from the Fremont area met at the Sandusky County Park District office, then carpooled to the meadows around the Sandusky Bay. Tom Kashmir, founder of the Green Creek Wildlife Society, led the procession. They divided up into two teams and began searching for Monarchs to tag. the Monarch butterflies are beginning their 2,800 miles migration to Mexico. A total of 13 Monarch butterflies were spotted, and the group netted and banded 5. 

Kashmir holds male Monarch
Tom Kashmir gently lifted a Monarch from one net and spread its wings to display the two black marks on each bottom wing. These black marks are absent on the female Monarch.

Monarch Tag
Also note the small circular tags. Each wing tag has a unique code and a toll-free number to call. In 1997, Monarch Watch developed new all-weather polypropylene tags. They are numbered specifically for the each tagging season. The new tags are round (9mm in diameter) rather than oblong or rectangular as in previous years. The tagging method is quite simple - remove a tag from the backing, place it over the discal cell and position the balls of your thumb and forefinger over the discal cells on both side of the butterfly, press firmly for two seconds and release the butterfly after recording the tag number and other information on the datasheet.

A tag is placed on wing

Between 1992 and 2011, over 16,000 Monarch Watch tag recoveries have been made. Every fall, tens of millions of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) travel up to 3,000 miles in their migration—monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains make their way to central Mexico and those west of the Rockies fly to the California coast. They migrate farther than any other butterfly. As they return north in the spring, the monarchs mate, lay eggs on milkweed in the South, and die. After hatching, the next generation of caterpillars metamorphose and finish the journey.

Kashmir pointing out the tag

Traveling from southern Canada and across the U.S., monarchs fly up to 80 miles a day, stopping to feed on nectar and to rest. Many people delight in watching these vibrant butterflies pass through their neighborhood. 
Monarchs must reach their destination before it gets too cold or else they risk death. But cold weather is far from their greatest threat. Habitat destruction and harm to their food sources imperil this phenomenal migration.

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Much of their spring and summer habitat in the U.S. has been ruined by new roads, housing developments, and expanding agriculture. Monarch larvae's only food source—milkweed—has been destroyed by people who consider it a harmful weed. Pesticides and herbicides threaten milkweed, nectaring plants on which the adults feed, and the monarchs themselves.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S believes urban sprawl can be offset by creating wildlife-friendly spaces in America's 25,000,000 lawns, one yard at a time! Click HERE to learn why. A portion of Ad sale revenues will be donated to Monarch Watch. Do you have a wildlife-friendly space? Please share it by contacting us!